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Poll Tax Riots (1990)

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The 1979 Conservative Party election manifesto promised reforms to local tax laws in Great Britain. The resulting Community Charge legislation was due for implementation on 1 April 1990.

Despite vociferous opposition, prime minister Margaret Thatcher refused to back down on what became known as the ‘Poll Tax’.

On 31 March, around 200,000 protesters marched on Trafalgar Square in London, and in the late afternoon, as the rally was coming to an end, violence broke out in the crowds, initiating “the Battle of Trafalgar”.

The ensuing riot was the largest civil disturbance seen in the British capital in the 20th century, and resulted in thousands of injuries, hundreds of arrests, and massive damage to property – including the burning and looting of businesses and cars.

This bitter message to the government was the first step in Thatcher’s decline from power.

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